Room With a Brew: Soak In the Suds at Dogfish Head Brewery's Own Hotel
Photos courtesy of Dogfish Inn
Ask people around what they know about Delaware and most of them will answer "not much." They may know the Dover International Speedway, or that Wilmington is home to all of the credit card companies. There is also one very well-known craft brewer that makes their home in the “First State": Dogfish Head Brewery.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was home to the very first brewpub in the state in 1995 and that brewpub still stands to this day. Although the company brews its beer for the masses at their 100,000 square-foot facility in Milton, Delaware, their original brewpub still operates and they also have a micro distillery onsite. Now, they are reaching even further.
Welcome to the Dogfish Inn. Located at 105 Savannah Road in Lewes, Delaware, Dogfish Head Owner Sam Calagione purchased the old Vesuvio Motel and dropped $1.6 million, transforming the property into a boutique beauty.
Off-centered Storyteller (yes, that's his actual job title) Justin Williams explained exactly why they got into the hotel business, "People come from far and wide to visit Dogfish Head here in coastal Delaware. In 2014, about 60,000 guests visited our Milton brewery, and tens of thousands more visit our Rehoboth Beach brewpub. We wanted to offer a place for those folks to explore, recharge, and relax. Celebrating the beauty of coastal Delaware is key. We have a state park, Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean just a few miles away, and you can get around by foot, by bike, by boat, by paddleboard…you name it. Best of all, 5 miles down a bike path will get you to our pub, and if you head 8 miles in the other direction you’ll find our production brewery."
Featuring beer-centric amenities and design elements, the 16-room motel was designed by Studio Tack, a Brooklyn, New York firm. You will find a Dogfish wool blanket in all the rooms, each spacious and decorated in the minimalist style. There is a mini fridge in each room and barware for your beer. There are TVs but no phones, there is AC in each room (the motel isn’t that old) and there are even Dogfish Head Soap in the bathrooms.
Who stay's at a hotel like this? Justin explained, "we wanted to create a place for craft beer lovers, lovers of travel, and anyone who appreciates independent makers and artists. All the small touches around the inn — a library curated by City Lights Books, a Cowboy Cauldron fire pit, outdoor showers, bicycles, oak floors, furniture made by independent artisans, locally roasted coffee — add up to one unique experience. We hope people have a great time, learn a lot about Dogfish and become evangelists and help spread the word."
There is a gift shop on the premises to help do just that. They sell hats, t-shirts, mugs, beer openers, and more. Everything you could want except…beer. That is right, you can bring some DFH beer from the brewpubs, the brewery or even the store, but you can’t buy it here. Sam wanted to make sure that the local economy didn’t suffer when he opened his doors at the hotel. You can however, buy dog treats at the store.
Which brings us to another perk: dog-friendly accommodations. They do it right at the Dogfish Inn with a simple pet charge of $25 a night. No worries about $250 deposits or $50 cleaning fees; all you have to know is that they keep half of their rooms dog-free for folks with allergies; so consider this your warning of limited availability.
The cottage has a loaning/buying library that was cultivated by the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. The staff builds a fire most nights in the “Cowboy Cauldron” out back behind the motel. They even have developed a “treasure map highlighting local landmarks,” which will help you learn just what else Delaware is known for. When you wake up in the morning, the office has fresh brewed Dogfish Chicory Coffee roasted by the local Notting Hill Coffee.
Dogfish Head has been known to expand their brand in interesting ways like partnering with Hans All-Natural, Dogfish produces a line of brats cooked with off-centered ingredients and infused with beers like Midas Touch, Chicory Stout, and Raison D’Etre. They have also partnered with their Delmarva neighbors Sea Watch International – a family-owned clam harvester based in Easton, Maryland to produce Hard-Tack Chowder. The chowder, infused with 60 Minute IPA, is brought to life with eight ounces of half-and-half and three ounces of Palo Santo Marron and according to them, pairs best with a dark, roasty ale. Justin adds, "And don’t forget the Hop-Pickle, a first-of-its-kind culinary leap of taste. It's an all-natural, medium-spicy pickle made with 60 Minute IPA, caramelized onions and Cascade hops and is packaged by hand in Brooklyn Brine's small artisanal kitchen." Intersting, very interesting.
So what's next for them? "We are in the middle of ramping up our spirits program in a big way," Justin said. "We’ve been distilling for more than a decade, but distribution was pretty much limited to Delaware. In fact, very few bottles made it beyond our brewpub. Now, we just took delivery of two shiny new 500-gallon copper pot stills and a 26-foot column still. We should be able to start water testing soon and are hoping to roll out revamped spirits line by late summer. Exciting stuff."
So get your best buds and beers together and take a road trip to Delaware! It may be the littlest state, but it has one of the best beer hotels in the country.
More by Tom Bastek
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